WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT: A police department has released body camera footage capturing two of its officers berating a five-year-old boy who had walked away from his school, calling him a “little beast” and threatening him with a beating.
The video released on Friday (local time) by the Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland shows one of the officers repeatedly screaming at the crying child, with her face centimetres from his.
“Oh, my God, I’d beat him so bad,” the officer said in the child's presence before telling him: “You do not embarrass me like this at school.”
The boy's mother has filed a lawsuit over the January 2020 interaction. Lawyers for the child’s mother, Shanta Grant, said the video showed the officers treating her son “as if he were a hardened criminal”.
They said Grant was seeking “justice and fair compensation for the trauma he endured”.
“She also hopes the incident will lead to changes in policy and training, both with the school and the police,” the attorneys, Matthew Bennett and James Papirmeister, said in a statement.
'Extremely difficult' to watch
The police department and the county's public school system declined to address the incident in detail, citing the mother's pending lawsuit, The Washington Post reported.
But the school system issued a statement describing the video as “extremely difficult” to watch.
“There is no excuse for adults to ever speak to or threaten a child in this way,” the school system said.
“As parents and grandparents, we know that when families send their children to school, they expect that the staff will care for them, keep them safe and use appropriate intervention processes when needed.”
A police department spokeswoman told the newspaper the officers in the video remained employed after an internal investigation.
“A thorough investigation was conducted of the entire event,” the department said in a statement.
The officers found the boy about one block from East Silver Spring Elementary School and drove him back to the school, where they were met by a school administrator.
The video shows an officer forcing the crying child onto a chair in the principal's office.
“Shut that noise up now!” the other officer shouted near the boy's face.
“I hope your mumma let me beat you.”
One of the officers pulled out his handcuffs and closed one of loops around the child’s right wrist.
“You know what these are for?” he asked the boy.
“These people that don’t want to listen and don’t know how to act.”
Montgomery County Council member Will Jawando said the video “made me sick".
“We all saw a little boy be mocked, degraded, put in the seat of a police car, screamed at from the top of an adult police officer’s lungs, inches from his face. This is violence,” Mr Jawando said.
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